The PJ Tatler

Psst, You Do Realize a Boycott Is Discrimination, Right?

The cognitive dissonance on display in reaction to Indiana’s newly signed religious freedom law staggers the mind. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the feeble effort to boycott the state in protest.

The Onion has a great piece which, intentionally or not, demonstrates the futility of organized boycotts, particularly on the scope being prescribed in this case.

… local man Ryan Schutz, 32, told reporters Monday that he’s torn between boycotting Indiana’s businesses and visiting Evansville’s Mesker Park Zoo. “This is definitely an important moment to take a moral stand, but on the other hand, they have a new sun bear that I really want to see—boy, this is real tough,” said a visibly anguished Schutz, noting that he definitely wanted to protest in solidarity with the state’s homosexual community while also stressing that it was a beautiful day out and if he got there early enough he’d be able to hand-feed oats to the Bactrian camel.

The real losers in a boycott are those who stage it, depriving themselves of desired values in an often unsustainable fashion. How long can one actually avoid commerce with an entire state?

Of course, the larger dissonance emerges from the concept of boycott itself. You can’t rationally protest discrimination with discrimination. By doing so, the protestors are actually affirming the validity of the law. Individuals have a right to apply their judgment and values to the question of whether to enter into or maintain relationships. That’s the point of the religious freedom law, and it’s the right exercised by those protesting through boycott.